The last curtain? Gander Kiwanis Club launches what may be its final festival

The last curtain? Gander Kiwanis Club launches what may be its final festival

The Kiwanis Club of Gander is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary with a week of musical performances, although the milestone just might serve as the festival's swan song.

The Gander club has struggled to retain its membership for several years, and now numbers are at their lowest — which means there may not be enough volunteers to keep the annual spring music festival rolling. 

"This year we're down to about 11 active members and next year [we are] anticipating it might be as low as seven or eight," says club member Susanne House.

"With that low number, it really is impossible to put off a festival of this size."

This year's festival, which opens March 23 and runs until April 1, boasts 491 performances, which range from solo instrumentals to musical theatre.

"We have over a thousand children just involved in the choirs alone. The bulk of the festival is for the youth of our community and promoting the arts and promoting the music," said House. 

"You need to have the opportunity to perform and learn in order to keep that in a community... so I think it will be a big loss."

Much required of volunteers

House says the dwindling volunteer numbers are likely related to the amount of work that goes into the festival each year. 

"It takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication to pull this off, and all of us are working individuals with families," she said. 

The group is reaching out to the community in hopes of getting new members. It will host an open house on April 6 at the Arts and Culture Centre in Gander. 

"I'd encourage anybody that has any interest …to come out and have a chat with us. We have a goal of 10 new members by mid-April," House says. 

The Kiwanis Club of Gander will make a decision by the end of the month as to whether it will continue.